Vote on Plan to Redevelop Donald McKay’s Brother’s Home in Eagle Hill Ends in Tie

The small, red, and white Italianate Victorian home at 88 White St. is packed with history. The home, which sits on the National Register of Historic Places, was built by Donald McKay for his brother in 1860, and is only one of two homes connected to Eastie’s famed shipbuilder.

The home remains in good shape, and has been a community treasure for more than 150 years, as is Donald McKay’s home just up the road at 78-80 White St.

A revised plan to historically renovate the home and carriage house and construct a three story addition was voted on during last week’s Eagle Hill Civic Association (EHCA) meeting.

EHCA members voted 14 to 14 on the project. The tie vote means that the EHCA will send a letter to the city that neither supports or opposes the project.

The original plan called for razing both the McKay home and carriage house and building a new development on the site.

However, after an emergency abutters meeting the attorney for the developer, Jeff Drago, said his client scrapped plans to tear the building down.

At February’s EHCA meeting Drago said, “I think we really took the feedback from the community and applied it to these revised plans.”

At last week’s EHCA meeting members were again presented with the new plan that calls for restoring both the McKay House and the carriage house on the property. The interior of the carriage house will be renovated and the developer plans to erect a three story addition to the carriage house.

The one-family McKay House will be historically restored, and will remain as one unit of residential housing.

“The entire project will be four units in total,” said Drago. “With this new plan, we will be able to preserve the two historic buildings while being able to add some additional units.”

When the developer orginally proposed to tear down the structures, EHCA members and Rep. Adrian Madaro reached out to Drago and the developer urging them to come to the community with a plan that preserves the two structures.

“These structures are very, very significant to the community,” said EHCA President Debra Cave. “This home is really a treasure to this community. It is only one of two homes built by Donald Mckay. There’s his (Donald McKay) home on White Street and this home that he built for his brother, so these are really very significant to this neighborhood and its history.”

At last week’s meeting EHCA members started to warm up to the project but expressed some concerns over the details of the historic renovation.

EHCA board member Charlie Lograsso said he wants to make sure, if the project goes forward, that the developer does his due diligence in researching what the home and carriage house looked like around the time it was built. Lograsso said the developer should take great care in researching architectural details such as window treatments, building materials like clapboards and other features to ensure they are appropriate to the period in which the home and carriage house were built. 

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